I can understand if potential readers might be a little wary of “Angel & Faith.” The shift of the “Angel” license from IDW to Dark Horse brought an end to the popular “Angel: After the Fall” series, and I think most fans agree that “Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight” crashed and burned in its second half. But we’re six issues into “Angel & Faith” now, and I think it’s probably my favorite of the recent “Buffyverse” comic series.
Writer Christos Gage has kept the focus on “Angel & Faith” tight. Spinning out of Giles’ death at the end of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” a little over a year ago, Gage (and “executive producer” Joss Whedon) has presented us with a slight twist on the two title characters: Angel wanting to find a way to bring Giles back, with Faith being the voice of reason and calm. Instead of feeling like these two are out-of-character, Gage makes this reversal of roles work thanks to their histories both together and apart, playing off of events in the television series as well as the comics. It’s a strong set-up, and it’s working well here.
“Angel & Faith” #6 kicks off a new storyline, “Daddy Issues,” and there’s more father references and appearances here than you shake a stick at. Faith, Angel and the deceased Giles all have their own “daddy” moments here, although they’re not all as simple or obvious as you’d think. I’m enjoying how Giles has a major role in this issue through flashbacks, and how Gage is tying it into the present-day events with our duo. Faith’s friendship with the newer Slayers is also spinning out well; we’re seeing growth in the characters, and the references to Faith’s early appearances don’t feel forced.
Rebekah Isaacs once again draws some excellent art. I’m impressed with artists who can not only keep their own natural at style on the page but also jump through the hoops to get studio-approved likenesses. That Isaacs can not only do all that but also keep her characters from feeling posed or stiff is that much better. The look in Angel’s eyes as he tells the police officer, “I don’t think he’s been here for a while” is a perfect example; it genuinely looks like David Boreanaz, with a look of pure regret in his eyes shining through to the reader. And that’s not even mentioning the on-point depiction of his hair, or cheekbones, or the rest of his facial features. Faith also looks like Eliza Duskhu come to life; her rooftop duel is energetic and fast moving, but we can get a quieter, disgusted look from Faith on the very next page that is just as impressive.
Gage and Isaacs whip up a particularly delicious conclusion to “Angel & Faith” #6; it’s a moment that in retrospect we should have seen coming, even as it reveals itself on the final page with a bit of surprise. It’s a clever development, one that will excite a lot of readers. It’s a good usage of the comic book serial format, and all in all wraps up another strong issue. If you were a fan of the television show or even just the “Angel: After the Fall” comic, definitely check out “Angel & Faith.” So far, it hasn’t disappointed.